Luther Smith of Keene, New Hampshire

This inlaid tall case clock is a diminutive size. it stands a mere 7 feet 1.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial. The case is nicely proportioned and is constructed with indigenous woods. The primary wood is cherry and white pine is used as the secondary wood and it retains its' original surface or finish. The case stands on four wonderfully formed ogee bracket feet. The base is decorated with a scalloped apron or molding that appears to hang below the lower waist molding. This very successful detail is one we see on numerous clock cases found in the Connecticut Valley region. A tombstone shaped waist door is fitted into the waist section of this case. It features an inlaid star or pinwheel in it’s center. The door is flanked by fluted quarter columns which terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet is an arched form and is surmounted by three brass ball and spike finials that sit on nicely formed wooden plinths. These plinths support the pierced and open fret work pattern that conforms to the shaped of the arch. Fully turned and fluted free standing bonnet columns ending in turned brass capitals flank the bonnet door. This arched door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted dial.

It is worth noting that this dial is of local origin. It was most likely painted by Thomas Shapley who advertised in December of 1794, that he was conducting business at Smith’s shop. He is listed in the local records as an ornamental artist.

The arch of this diall is signed with the Maker’s name and place or working location. The movement is brass and of good quality. It is designed to run eight days and strike the hour on a cast iron bell. This clock was made circa 1795.

About Luther Smith of Keane, New Hampshire.

Luther Smith was born in Colrian, Massachusetts around 1767 and had moved to Keene, New Hampshire sometime around 1793. He married Sarah Eveleth in Bolton, Ma in 1798. His shop was located on Federal Row which is now Main Street in Keene. He also purchased a mill from Nathan Blake on what is now known as West Street. In Keene, he built the first public clock which was installed in the old meeting-house at the head of main street in 1794. Its’ cost, including a ten year warranty, was 36 pounds. The clock’s one dial faced to the south and unfortunately the clock was lost in 1828 when the meeting-house was moved. Smith also built the first brick tavern house in 1805. Other tall clocks as well as banjo clocks, New Hampshire mirror clocks and tower clocks have been found by this Maker. He died on October 21, 1839 at the age of 73. He is buried in the Washington Street Cemetery.

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